Work & confused

I have only recently joined this forum. So I apologise if I haven’t done this properly,

I was instructed by occy health to look on this web sight & seek support! I’m off sick at the moment from work & I’m confused if I want to go back now.

I was told 2 years ago that I have RRMS. And I work in a strange environment. I work at sea, on a ship, in a male dominated environment. I spent the last two years onboard, only telling the bare minimum people. And. 2 months ago it all crumbled, I don’t think I’ve not come to terms with my diagnosis ( like occy health think). As a female working at sea, you had to always be stronger, so you didn’t have people saying your shite cuz ur a female. Yes, in this day and age, it’s still not a “normal” female career path. But you work harder, to prove you should be there, when I got told I had MS, I felt it was another hurdle to overcome. So ya, I didn’t want my diagnosis all over the ship I work on.

So my shore boss was onboard, and firstly told people working under me, that I had a restricted medical, which originally upset me. But when I highlighted this to him, and how our medicals are meant to be confidential, I was informed I was “unemployable” with the medical I had. The following day, I was told again I was unemployable. I was working a rank up, this trip & there was a permanent position available. I retracted my application for this role, as I felt, what was the point as I’m “unemployable”. ( and I have stood in for this rank many times the past 5 yrs)

Then my holidays after that trip, my balance is off, my eyes are playing up my hand is numb, and I just feel like I’m falling apart. And nearly 2 months later, there still not right. Yes, I know I’m still stressed out from what was said. I think mainly cuz he said what I thought when I was diagnosed. So it was like someone said what I was originally fearing.

I don’t know If i try and pull myself together, get my thick skin back,and go back to a job I really ( past tense) enjoyed. But I’ve now the fear of every one knowing I have MS. I’m just so confused & upset.

Thankfully I’ve been to my neuro and he reckons it’s not a relapse, as I’ve had these symptoms before. ( but not all at once).

hi anon

look up “constructive dismissal” because it appears to be what your employer is trying to do to you.

DIAL Disability Advice Line 0808 800 3333 may be worth a call.

i hope someone can help your employer to see sense and stop this what is to all effect, bullying.

you are a strong person to have that career path so have a good think about your next steps.

good luck

carole x

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Thanks Carole for your reply, it’s really appreciated. To be fair my shore boss, I don’t think he knew I had MS, it was only the following day that he Re-said how my Medical made me unemployable, I asked him if he knew why it was restricted. I don’t want to be making excuses for him, cause originally when it was said I was upset & one of my colleagues witnessed what had happened & knew the reason why it was restricted, so tried cheering me up. I thought maybe he said it without realising how hurtful his statement was, and I know how ppl can stay stuff and not mean things to come out. But it was then the next day to say it again, and be so condescending that I came out and told him I couldn’t put plaster on and get a better medical. I asked him f he knew why my medical was restricted and it was brushed off that he didn’t need to know, I told him and walked off. That’s what makes me think, why does occy health think I haven’t come to terms with it? If I hadn’t surely I wouldn’t have declared it in front of others. They have said that this issue may have caused my sickness from work. I have HR wanting me to talk to him and discuss it and clear the air. Which I never want to speak to him again. I have a union, but I don’t know if they would be much help. Thank you for the number & I will speak to them, as I’m so confused. I don’t want to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. I’m just afraid, that maybe I have taken this the wrong way.

Stop trying to ‘come to terms with it’ - I’ve had it years and I doubt if I’ve ever ‘come to terms with it’ Secondly you may well be in a situation where line mangers don’t have a clue what their responsibilities are. You need to check if you as a service person are covered by the same legislation as non-service people. If you are then your employer has certain duties/responsibilities towards you. I guess the big question is, with adaptations, are you able to continue with your present job? If not is there a job you could do elsewhere - without reducing your wage. If not you may be looking at early retirement. The bottom line is you must NOT get into a sort of apologetic mind set about having m.s. You must familiarise yourself with your rights and most importantly you may have to fight for the best deal. Your employer/line manager is not your friend. You need to note everything that is said and who witnessed it. With m.s. we are in law regarded as Disabled - mention to your employer that as a person with a disability you have legal protection and you will fight for your rights. The one thing an employer may be scared of is adverse publicity - do any of the Services want to be shown to be discriminating. Reading your OP I wonder what ‘restricted medical’ actually means and no one should be said to be unemployable. And certainly this was confidential information not to be shared. In brief, get genned up, be vey specific in what you want and start battling!


Thanks Cracowain, for your response & reply. I just had a phone call from HR, about being off sick and not having dealt with my shore boss. She seems to be pushing for me to have a meeting/ telephone call so he can explain what he said & meant. As he is worried that I’m still off. She is meant to send me EAP stuff, however the last time I spoke to her, she was meant to send that a month ago. I dunno if they are frightened I will hear about the it wasn’t acceptable what happened. A restricted medical, means I am restricted to where the ship can trade & if I can work onboard. But for my current company, it’s usually not a issue, as it is usually around the UK. I’m in the merchant navy, however the company I’m working for, I would believe we go under all the rules and laws like shore side, because I find I’m currently been treated similar to a shore employee. I know my company wouldn’t like me going public with this. I just found dealing with HR made it all more complicated. It was like she wants to protect my shore boss. I spoke to one of the lads the other day, and told him how another member onboard, heard that the shore boss, reckons I misinterpreted what he said. ( so I had been pre-warned that he has changed what he said), so when I spoke to the guy that was present when he said I was unemployable, and he agreed he clearly said I was “unemployable”. Do I get onto my union. Who recently got a couple of million from my employer or do I battle this thru someone else? I’m afraid if I start something I won’t be prepared.

i think that Access to Work explain to the employer what their responsibilities to you are, i.e. the ins and outs of disability law.

give them a call and ask about it.

And that’s the number you gave me above? I’ll ring tomoro, if I don’t get more calls from work, just feels like they send my head flying all over the place, ringing me, when I’m not expecting it.

Morning anon.

WOW what a fab job you have, you could write a book.

I think you have had great advise and i would ring the number as carole has suggested.

If you enjoy your job why give it up? I agree to some extent with HR, you need to chat to this person and get it sorted out. You must be capable to deal with these things. You would not be working in the MN otherwise. People say things not in anyway excusing this guy, but he may have been saying stick with us, as your unemployable if you apply elsewhere…not sure that makes sense. In your job you have to be pretty fit i would say, and he said something which i expect he wished he hadnt. TALK to him, show your spirit hun. You dont have to take this treatment. You are employable, its kind of knocked your confidence i think.

BUT if you dont sort it out it will ruin a career you so obviously love.

Your fit for work otherwise the neuro would have said no. YOu may well have picked up a virus and this can actually make you feel as though you have a relapse. are you on any dmd?

gosh i think your amazing to do a job like that and to do it with MS you go girl. I actually think the men would be kind to you if they knew. they obviously care about you as this other guy is standing up for you.

I agree with cracowian too. GREAT POST by the way.

the way forward is to have this meeting. Just remember people say things doesn’t mean they meant harm it just means they have POTTY MOUTH lol they speak before they think. I think we have all been guilty of that at some point in our lives and put our hands over our mouths and think of poo i didn’t mean to say that.

once said its hard to take back. give this guy a chance to explain why he said what he did. then deal with it. I don’t think you should give up your job, they have to take on board your MS and possible restrictions (on board oops on ship ha ha).

they have to adapt. You have rights. they cant get rid of you.

why should you leave anyway it doesn’t sound to me your ready. If you can still work in the MN but perhaps in a different less taxing role perhaps? Seems to me your not frightened of the work your upset by what this guy said.

sorry i am tired and talking rubbish.

I used to be a boss, and i would definitely advise you talk this through. you can ask to have a mediator in with you ok. so know mistake about what was said.

good luck. It would make a great book inspiring i think you are. what a job. fab. In sheltered where i live i have met a lady who was in the navy in the war she is a real crack done so much and was telling me all about their shore leaves etc and her life. she is 80 now and has some fab memories. xxx you too will have to tell your grandkids. xxx

I’m having issues replying, keeps coming up with a error?!

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And now it seems to be working!

Hi crazy chick,

Thank your for your message. I agree, I do think sometimes we say stuff that we didn’t mean & originally I was going to let it pass cause of that reason, but it was the following day for him to re-iterate it that got to me.

Yes, I’ve had to be strong in the MN, and I was when I was told I had MS, now just feel what the is the point. You work your arse off, and get nowhere. I’ve avoided promotions the last 2 yrs since I was diagnosed, but then when I get myself, doing the job well and not having my MS known, I get told I’m “unemployable”. ( I have watched 4 people jump me already). So then to be told, what I was fearing 2 years ago of being unemployable, all gets chucked in my face.

I was very lucky to have a understandable master the past 2 years, he pushed me to complete my masters license. It was a lot of hard work and study. Studying was hard, to try and remember absolutely everything, you have to do a 1-2 hour oral exam, and can be asked anything. I don’t know if its getting old (as I’m only 35!) or the MS. But trying to remember stuff seems a lot harder.

It frightens me to speak to my shore boss cuz I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep strong, even now I’m starting to well up. And as you can imagine, you don’t show emotions onboard. So me breaking down in tears wouldn’t be good. He said everything I thought, and it’s why it has hit me hard. I was strong, I think I’m loosing my motivation to keep going with it.

Regarding the book writing, like any MN person, it would need a few volumes. And I wouldn’t be able to give my folks a copy, they would be shocked at what it’s really like at sea, and what happens.

I miss being at sea, at work, but If I go back it’s like everything is chucked back at me, like you didn’t get promoted (cuz I retracted my application), everyone now knows I have MS.

Thank you for the reply, and sorry for the delay ( having issues all day to try and post??!!)

I don’t see why your gender should be conflated with this illness. What I would recommend to you, is that you drop all other meaningless, media-stereotyped feelings of hard feeling that all and sundry feel nowadays for their classification - be it female, minority, religion, single parents, white males and everything else, and just focus on what you need to get done, and focus on the betterment of any relapses you have, and recovery time.

Don’t focus on irrelevant societal factors which have legal protection against.

Hi hun i have replied. to you. it is probably a glitch we do get them. I cant quote at the moment.


Unfortunately Camaban, I think If I was a bloke in the merchant navy I would have progressed further, quicker… unless you are a female and working in the merchant navy, I don’t think you will appreciate what sort of environment it is. But then, I don’t think it matters what Gender you are, but you need to be open. Working there is a lot harsher an environment, and a lot of people have moved on, and embraced the changes however there is a lot that are still stuck in the 1900s! Some of the comments I have witnessed have been disgusting and would be unacceptable in any other shore job, my friends are horrified with some of the story’s I have told them. What I,m trying to focus on, is do I want to go back to this environment & my Ms secret isn’t so secret.

I have worked offshore, in the public sector, in a marine (Not rig) capacity for close to 7 years now.

So you can remove your ‘you can’t appreciate…’ thoughts out of your head.

It sounds to me that your ignorant head is in the modern age stuck in the regressive 2010s.

Well, I suppose working with a multitude of nationalities, cultures, ages & genders, for the past 15 years, means I haven’t a clue. Maybe I made the big mistake not going offshore, and instead going on “proper” vessels, World wide.

I reckon it’s more ignorant to say everything is rosey out there. But obviously you have more seagoing experience than me. I would say all the females and a lot of men, I have met in the past 15years, would agree that the MN is still stuck in a time warp and a lot of things wouldn’t pass in a shore job.

But hey what do I know hahahahaha